Saturday, February 4, 2012

Four Simple Ways to Spice Up Your Teaching Space, Part 1 - Teaching Stations

I don't know if variety really is the spice of life (personally I prefer oregano) but variety sure can spice up your large group storytelling experience for kids.  In Children's Ministry we have a tendency to keep doing what works and sometimes miss out on new techniques that may actually work better than our old comfortable routine.

Unless you're using a traditional classroom set up (kids sitting in chairs around tables), your Children's Ministry probably looks like an auditorium - a stage or teaching area up front and kids sitting in rows like they're in a movie theater.     

Standard Stage Set Up

Nothing wrong with this.  In fact it usually works pretty well.  But like anything in our ministries, this set up can grow predictable and stale.  If you want to try something fun, shake it up one weekend (and blow your kids' minds) by trying an alternate configuration.

Today we're going to check out a fairly easy one to pull off - teaching stations.   
Teaching Stations
In the teaching station layout, you define certain spaces around your room as different locations or events in your Bible story or key points in your lesson.  For example, when telling the story of Joseph from the Old Testament, you could set it up like this:

Station 1:  Joseph's home
Station 2:  Brothers throw him in a pit
Station 3:  Potiphar's house
Station 4:  Prison
Station 5:  Pharaoh's palace

You can establish the setting with either a prop (like Joseph's coat to represent his home) or a basic set piece (chair with purple cloth on it for Pharaoh's throne). 

You can also use it for lessons that aren't driven by a specific story.  Let's say you're teaching the plan of salvation, you might set it up like this:

Station 1: Perfect creation
Station 2: Sin
Station 3: The cross
Station 4: Gift of eternal life
Station 5: Heaven

You can use a key prop on a stool to represent each part of the lesson. 

The cool part about using teaching stations is that you teach all around the kids.  They're totally immersed in the action.  They have to physically turn their bodies to find out what happens next, which keeps them curious and engaged.  Plus, it's just plain fun!

Remember, this is no substitute for a solid lesson and a well-rehearsed storyteller (that's what's really going to engage kids), but it can enhance the storytelling experience. 

If your room is low-tech this is an easy one to experiment with.  If you use stage lights, you'll either have to reposition some or keep the house lights up for this one. 

Have you ever used teaching stations?  In what upcoming lessons could you use teaching stations to surround your kids with the story?

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